Hawaiian fight fans have a busy summer schedule ahead, beginning with the Penn-Sherk lightweight title fight May 24 in Las Vegas and ending with the K1 USA Grand Prix, which is rumored for Aug. 9 at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.
From future fights to recent events, MMA Pipeline has the news on what's going down in the 50th state's fight scene.
Nelson Drops Out, Relinquishes Lightweight Title
Just days before his scheduled title defense, X1 lightweight champ Shane Nelson (Pictures) has bowed out of his fight Friday against Ray "Bradda" Cooper and relinquished his 155-pound title.
"I wish I could've fought ‘Bradda' cause it would have been a nuts fight," Nelson said. "I think things happen for a reason, and the fans will understand later."
Though he could not comment, the 24-year-old student of B.J. Penn (Pictures) is rumored to be a contestant on the next season of "The Ultimate Fighter," which called for applicants from the heavyweight and lightweight divisions.
"There isn't much that I can say on why I pulled out of the fight, but to everyone who thinks I pulled out because I'm scared, that couldn't be further from the truth," Nelson told Sherdog.com via e-mail on Saturday.
At the time of publication, X1 World Events had not commented on whether a suitable replacement had been found to fight Cooper.
EliteXC Returns to Islands
EliteXC has confirmed that Oahu's Neal S. Blaisdell Arena will host the promotion's Showtime-televised event on June 14.
Dubbed "The Return of the King," the event will be headlined by a lightweight title matchup between champion KJ Noons and No. 1 contender Yves Edwards (Pictures).
A native of the big island of Hawaii, "King Karl" Noons is a three-time Icon Sport veteran, stopping his opponents with strikes on all three occasions. This will be his first fight in Hawaii since 2005 and his first defense of his 155-pound title since defeating Nick Diaz (Pictures) to capture it last November.
Also on the card will be some familiar faces to Hawaiian spectators. Nick Diaz (Pictures) and Murilo Rua (Pictures), who competed in Honolulu last September, will make their ways back to the Blaisdell to take on Muhsin Corbbrey (Pictures) and Tony Bonello (Pictures), respectively.
The main card will be rounded out by two heavier matchups, as Wayne Cole (Pictures) drops to 205 pounds to face Rafael Feijao and Dave Herman (Pictures) fights current X1 heavyweight champ Ron Waterman (Pictures).
Of particular interest to Hawaiian fans may be the event's undercard. Like last year, it will take place after the televised bouts. Headlining will be newly crowned Icon Sport middleweight champ Kala Kolohe Hose, who will be throwing down against former hockey enforcer Geoff Bumstead (Pictures).
While many of the other undercard bouts are yet to be confirmed, a number of local fighters -- such as Mark Oshiro (Pictures), PJ Dean (Pictures), Lolohea Mahe (Pictures), Koa Ramos (Pictures), Kaleo Kwan (Pictures), Mike Aina (Pictures), Dean Lista (Pictures) and Chris Bernard -- are all expected to see action.
Tentative fight card:
KJ Noons vs. Yves Edwards (Pictures)
Nick Diaz (Pictures) vs. Muhsin Corbbrey (Pictures)
Murilo Rua (Pictures) vs. Tony Bonello (Pictures)
Rafael Feijao vs. Wayne Cole (Pictures)
Dave Herman (Pictures) vs. Ron Waterman (Pictures)
Kala Kolohe Hose vs. Geoff Bumstead (Pictures)
Grove vs. Tanner at TUF Finale
Hawaiian fighter Kendall Grove (Pictures) is set to take on former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner (Pictures) in the main event of the live "Ultimate Fighter" season seven finale June 21 on SpikeTV.
Grove is on a bit of a downslide in his career. He suffered back-to-back knockouts after winning season three of "The Ultimate Fighter" and stopping his next two opponents in the UFC.
But it appears the 25-year-old Maui native is looking to put an end to his losing streak by training with one of the sport's best.
"Kendall is training in Hilo, Hawaii, with B.J. Penn (Pictures)," Grove's sports agent, Jill Baxter, told Sherdog.com. "He trains four hours per day. He loves training in Hilo and is looking forward to his fight with Evan Tanner (Pictures)."
Hawaii Fighting Championship Results
On a night filled with amateur MMA and kickboxing bouts, three pro fights headlined the Stand Your Ground IX card put on by HFC on May 9 at the Dole Cannery Ballroom.
In the night's main event, Team Icon's Ricky "Hoku" Wallace was put through a tough test. Ryan Cabinian pushed him late into the fight, but Wallace endured and eventually put Cabinian away with strikes in the third round.
In 160-pound action, Marcio Silva quickly worked a number of submission attempts on opponent Robert Villapondo before transitioning into a tap-inducing armbar early in the first frame. In the evening's first pro bout, middleweight journeyman Brennan Kamaka (Pictures) made short work of Michael Winklespecht, knocking him out in the first round.
Vitale Shows Local Pride
On April 18 former Icon Sport and current X1 middleweight champ Falaniko Vitale (Pictures) shed his gloves and fight shorts for the night and tried his hand at promoting.
Niko Vitale Promotions' inaugural event, Local Pride, was held at the Dole Cannery Ballroom and headlined by a heavyweight encounter between Lolohea Mahe (Pictures) and Vilatonu Fonokalafi. The two big men scrapped in the opening round, but the bout was eventually stopped in the second when Fonokalafi could not continue due to an injured eye, giving Mahe the win by way of TKO.
In other pro action, Team MMAD went 3-0. Heavyweight Doug Hiu (Pictures) defeated Kaeo Linkee via decision, and Brad Tavares and Kyle Miyahana both took first-round victories by rear-naked choke over John Ferrel and Micah Ige (Pictures), respectively.
Though the promotion was created to raise money for Vitale's Central Pacific Youth/West Oahu Project charity, the champ doesn't seem so sure there will be a second event.
"It was a lot harder than I thought," Vitale told the Honolulu Advertiser. "I don't know if I'll be doing this again. The fighting is easier than the promoting."
Alaska Sweeps Hawaii at AFC 46
All five of the island boys who made the trek to the great white north to take on their Alaskan counterparts were unsuccessful at Alaska Fighting Championship 46.
The Hawaii vs. Alaska-themed event on April 9 in Anchorage, Alaska, was the latest in a continuing trend of talent exchange between the two non-contiguous states. Two of the most notable examples of the exchange are AFC veteran Ricky Shivers (Pictures), who fought Falaniko Vitale (Pictures) for the X1 middleweight title last January, and Justin Buchholz (Pictures), who was an AFC veteran and an Icon champ before the UFC signed him.
Brian Evans def. Dom Ah Nee TKO 2:21 R1
Dave Knight def. David Padilla (Pictures) submission (kimura) 1:58 R2
Julio Paulino def. Ron Verdadero (Pictures) TKO 2:00 R2
Jesus Rivera def. Smokey Brown TKO 1:48 R1
Bryan Ryan def. Kalao Kahalewai TKO 1:49 R1